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Manual Labour: Making and Making-Do

Chris Warrell reports on an unusual series of demonstrations in which he was invited to participate.

"We obsess about productivity; yet we tend to overlook and discard people as 'no-longer-productive' or useless because the skills they have — sometimes honed over a lifetime of training, use and care – are not seen as worthwhile, cost-effective, or contemporary enough anymore."

So goes the introductory paragraph on the website for the series of demonstrations, under the umbrella title of Manual Labour: Making and Making-Do.  The idea was to show that skills were still being practised and these would be shown over six days from 27th August to 1st September 2013.  Someone obviously thought that Meccano model building was a skill which fitted the remit, and so I was invited to The Arch Gallery in Bethnal Green to undertake a demo.

The Arch Gallery
The Arch Gallery

What was unusual was that the demos were to take place (one at a time) in, effectively, an empty shop window on a main street.  Passers by could look at what you were doing, but they couldn't ask you any questions or speak to you at all! I decided to build a manual model, since my demo was to last three hours, and chose the Saloon Car from the 1950s No. 4 set.  I just about completed the model before the deadline was up.

Chris in the process of building the Saloon Car
Chris in the process of building the Saloon Car


» This article appeared in the January 2014 issue of SELMEC News.

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